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09/30/18 - Hurricane Hill Reopened

Hurricane Hill has finally been reopened, at least for three days a week until the road is closed by snow. The trail is one of the most popular in the park, and it has shown a lot of wear. It is being rebuilt, widened, repaved and restored. For now, the Hurricane Hill road only runs to the second picnic area. The parking area at the usual trailhead is full of building materials for the trail work.

We got an early start. This was a good idea since just about every parking space was taken when we returned from our hike around noon. The hike was as beautiful as ever. One day we expect to see Mount Olympus itself covered in construction scaffolding, but, for now, the mountains are being left to their own devices. We took in some amazing views, admired a few late blooming flowers and the golden grasses and checked out the sap covered pine cones.

Check the park web site before you go. The trail is only open three days a week (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), but it is well worth the effort.


A common sight in 2018 - road closed

Hurricane Hill Trail widened

The new trail with have a lot of stone work to encourage people to stay on the trail.

The Olympic Mountains seen from Hurricane Hill Trail

Autumn color

More autumn color

Even more autumn color

Good grief, even more autumn color

Fields of gold

Fields of gold with distant mountains

More fields of gold, more mountains

Variation on a theme

One of the late harebells

Pine cones

More pine cones

Autumn color by the trail

Autumn color and more stones for the trail work

Keywords: hurricane hill, trails


07/12/18 - Escape to the Cascades

With so many roads under construction or closed in Olympic National Park, we Kalebergs decided to visit another national park for a change of pace. Surely, there are, somewhere, national park trails unobstructed by road work or washouts.

We set our sights on the Cascade Pass Trail in the North Cascades National Park. We did our due diligence. The road was open. The trail was open. We drove east. We made our way to Marblemount where the trail access road begins and, with high hopes, continued past the chip sealed lanes and through a stretch of slippery soft mud before the twisty climb to the trailhead.

The picture gives away the punchline. The road was closed 3-4 miles before the trailhead. It had washed out the day before.


Cascade Pass Trail starts 3 to 4 miles from hear.

Keywords: trails


06/28/18 - Obstruction Point

The road from Hurricane Ridge out to Obstruction Point is usually closed well into July, but this year it opened in mid-June.Despite all the road construction, we made our way out there a few days ago. There was still a fair bit of snow, perhaps more than we have ever seen, but we ventured forth anyway.

There were marmots and wildflowers and lakes melting from the snow and ice. We made our way down the staircase and followed the trails to the overlook with its view of Grand Lake. It was still early in the season with phlox and glacier lilies here and there.


Right before the staircase

One of the little lakes

Another lake melting out

The trail, north and south

More of the trail

One of the smaller lakes on the way to Grand Lake

Walking on top of the world

Another view

There are amazing views from this trail.

A view from the staircase

More high country

Keywords: obstruction point, trails


06/26/18 - Little River Trail

With so many roads in the park blocked by road work, we've been checking out some new trails. This time it was the Little River Trail. It starts near where Black Diamond Road meets Little River Road. As usual in 2018, Black Diamond Road was being repaved, but the delays were short. We only hiked out for an hour, but it was nice walking on a soft surface and being in the forest again. The first part of the trail was second growth, but there were more old trees and more first growth as we made our way up the trail.

The trilliums were past bloom, but the Pacific dogwood was out. The trail heads all the way up to Hurricane Ridge, but we stopped well before the serious climbing began. We turned around at the second crossing, so we have a lot left to explore. It's nice to have a new trail, and one that isn't a challenge to get to.


A typical stretch of trail

The trail follows the water

Epiphytes

More river

Pacific dogwood

A little more river

The bridge where we turned back

Some cascades

Another look at the river

A more Little River

A rather large trillium, past bloom

Keywords: trails, trillium


05/25/18 - Elwha River Update

We drove out to Madison Falls, the current end of Olympic Hot Springs Road. We took our usual walk along the Elwha, past the relocated mule camp, over the temporary bridge, and down to the latest washout where the Elwha meets the road. The Elwha won, as you can see in the pictures.

The park is making the best of the situation. They can't conjure a road from nowhere. Along with many of our favorite trails, there's a park ranger station and work area cut off by the river. There is a temporary trail around the wash out, and while it isn't suitable for cars, it is apparently human and mule friendly. We saw a group of laden mules taking the route.

The river is as beautiful as ever, but the trails out of Whiskey Bend and to Olympic Hot Springs are still inaccessible. This will probably be the situation for some time.


You can see two branches of the Elwha crossing the road here.

Elwha versus Road; Elwha wins.

The park service mules in action

The Elwha

Another view of the Elwha

An artfully framed view of the Elwha

White water

Madison Falls, worth the two minute walk

Upper Madison Falls

Snow covered mountains

A last look at the Elwha

Keywords: elwha, olympic hot springs, spring, trails


03/20/18 - Foster Island

After admiring the cherry trees in the University of Washington quad, we headed south across the Montlake Cut. We descended to the waterfront and headed east towards Foster Island. First, we took a foot bridge to Marsh Island which true to its name was marshy and muddy. Then, we crossed another, longer foot bridge and then followed a causeway with wonderful views of the university, the Cascades and Lake Washington. We followed the trail across Foster Island, then headed south towards the Arboretum and back to civilization.

The Montlake Cut and crew

Marsh Island, true to its name

On Marsh Island

More of the marsh, hardly in Seattle at all

The causeway

Across to Foster Island

Some great bird watching

That's 520 overhead; there were ducks below.

On to the Arboretum

Keywords: seattle, trails


02/10/18 - Along Lake Crescent

With so many trails closed this time of year, we often get back to the Spruce Railroad Trail. It's more of a country road now, but it still has its charms. One in particular is the special, bonus surprise waterfall about an hour's walk west, just before the second railroad tunnel. With all the winter rain, it was running. To be honest, it was trickling, but it was still a pleasant surprise.

We stopped a bit shy of our usual goal. There had been a rock fall, and while the trail was passable, we didn't want to bother with the bad footing. This is a great time to get out to Lake Crescent, even when the skies are gray.


The special, bonus surprise waterfall

More of a trickle actually

Fallen rocks on the trail

The trail

A fallen log leads into the lake

More of the trail

Even more, with mossy rocks

The lake again - Barnes Valley

The footbridge

More of a country road

Another little waterfall

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, surprise waterfall, trails, waterfall, winter


12/14/17 - Why Is Olympic Hot Springs Road Still Closed?

Like many, we've been wondering when Olympic Hot Springs Road is likely to reopen. We want to get back to the trails out of Whiskey Bend and to Olympic Hot Springs. We drove out to take a look and see how the river was flowing. We parked at Madison Falls and walked past the gate and followed the road over the temporary bridge. We could see that the road wasn't in great shape, but last time it was completely flooded. Now the waters had receded, so we pressed on.

We didn't get very far. Maybe a quarter mile past the temporary bridge there was a gap in the road and a branch of the Elwha river running through that gap. It wasn't just some little stream, but a full fledged torrent, maybe thirty feet wide. This wasn't something that could be easily stopped or bridged. The remainder of Olympic Hot Springs Road, including the ranger station, was cut off.

On our way back, we stopped to study one of the signs describing the temporary trail that the park service has blazed. It cuts inland near where the road gets its first view of the river. According to the sign, the trail runs inland and uphill and continues south past the east side of the campground. It appears to rejoin Olympic Hot Springs Road down near the ranger station and the junction with Whiskey Bend Road. In other words, it is possible to head further down the road on foot, but not otherwise, and this isn't likely to change very soon.


The road wasn't in great shape.

We could see a gap up ahead.

That's a new branch of the Elwha.

Some more road damage

Even more road damage

The river wild

More of the Elwha River

Keywords: elwha, olympic hot springs, trails


10/20/17 - The Smokey Bottom or West Lake Mills Trail

We took a walk along what was once the west bank of Lake Mills, but now is just a trail following the Elwha River. We started at the old Glines Canyon dam overlook and headed south. We passed through young forest and then more open areas with nice views of the river. There were lots of late season lupines in bloom, a lot of them planted as part of the restoration effort.

It was a short hike. We're hoping it gets extended and linked up with other trails in the area. For now, it's a good way to watch the old Elwha River come back into its own.


View from the remains of the Glines Canyon Dam looking south

The eastern remains of the dam

Some mushrooms

Signs of fire

Young forest

A late season lupine

A view of the river

Formerly Lake Mills

Another view

Keywords: elwha, trails


07/20/17 - Klahane Ridge Again

Our three favorite high country trails are the Hurricane Hill Trail, the Lilian Ridge Trail out of Obstruction Point and the Klahane Ridge Trail via the Switchback Trail. This season, the last of those of three keeps calling us back. We've been watching the flowers, with more and more lupines appearing as the phlox starts to fade. We've been watching the mountain goats, carefully, as there seem to be a lot of them. There were over a dozen on our descent. We didn't stop for photos. We wanted to keep an eye on them and be ready to react.

We made it up past the ridge overlook and followed the trail leading to Lake Angeles. The "rooms", areas carpeted with alpine flowers and divided by crags, were a trip back to early in the season. Only a few flowers had blossomed, though we expect more when we answer the call of Klahane Ridge again.


A view from the ascent

As we approached the ridge

A mountain goat and her kid

Another view of them

A view of the Olympic Mountains

One of the alpine "rooms"

The end of our hike, lingering snow

Phlox, probably at its peak - It's a pity there isn't HTML to capture the scent.

Lupines, a great year

Blood wort

Bog orchid

Keywords: flowers, high country, klahane ridge, mountain goats, trails


04/22/17 - Elwha River Trail - Part 1

With Olympic Hot Springs Road open again, we've been heading up to Whiskey Bend and revisiting the Elwha River Trail. We've already made it to the overlook before the second canyon on the way to Lilian Camp and down past Michael's Ranch for a look at the Elwha River. The trails are still a bit muddy, but lots of people are about celebrating the area's reopening. We've been celebrating this year's crop of trilliums and are looking forward to a great hiking season.

A trillium

A view from the overlook

A tree down across the trail

Another trillium

Another bit of trail

One of the many streams

Yet another trillium

Those yellow violets

The trail is beautiful on a sunny day

Our first slug of the season

Mysterious alligator leaves

Keywords: elwha, spring, trails, trillium


04/08/17 - Walla Walla - Bennington Lake

We were out in Walla Walla, so we made a point of dropping by Bennington Lake. It's actually a water control project run by the Army Corps of Engineers, but its also a gem of a park and a great place for a walk between wine touring and fine dining. This year we had great views of two ospreys flying by the lake, and, as usual, the scenery was stunning.

Dried grass and ark wood

One of the trails

The water works

One of the ospreys

Possibly the same osprey, possibly the other

The scene later as the sky darkened a bit

More wonderful sky

Trees and the sky

The trail

Grasses and sky

More ominous sky

Keywords: trails, walla walla


03/12/17 - Elk and the Elwha

With Olympic Hot Springs Road closed, a lot of trails have been unreachable, so we've taken to walking the closed road from the closure at Madison Falls. The river is still beautiful, and the high country still beckons. We hope the park service manages to reopen the road at some point.

There was a herd of elk by the road on our way to Madison Falls. There were quite a few of them. As we move into spring, then summer, they'll be heading up to the high country. For now, we'll take advantage of the photo op.


An elk farm

Some elk

More elk

A horse watches the elk suspiciously

Even more elk

The mountains

Off the Elwha

The Elwha River

Another view of the Elwha

An artsy view of the Elwha

Lately, our favorite view of the Elwha

Keywords: elwha, spring, trails


02/16/17 - Marymere Falls in February

It has been a wintry month, and we haven't been getting out as much as we'd like. If nothing else, the Spruce Railroad Trail and all of the Elwha Valley trails are closed for construction and the high country is covered with snow. We did get out to Marymere Falls. It was a short walk from the parking lot, less than an hour round trip, but it was a nice taste of northwestern forest for the season.

The falls

The misty mountain trail

Looking down at Barnes Creek

The trail with a new handrail (on the right)

Barnes Creek again

The side stream from the falls

Another view of Barnes Creek

Keywords: elwha, high country, marymere falls, spruce railroad, trails


01/22/17 - Marymere Falls and Barnes Creek

So many trails are closed this winter. Most of the Elwha River trails are closed while the flood damage is repaired, and the Spruce Railroad Trail is closed for the next step in its upgrade. The loop to Marymere Falls is one of the few trails still open, so we've been getting there fairly often. For a while, the trail was covered with snow. The Barnes Valley doesn't get a lot of sun this time of year, but the snows have melted, and the snow melt and recent rains have fed the river and the falls.

Marymere Falls, a healthy roar

The steps from the lower to the upper falls observation points, in National Park Modern

They've been rebuilding the bannisters along the trail

A view of Barnes Creek

The footbridge over Barnes Creek

Another view of Barnes Creek

The forest

Another view

and yet another

Keywords: elwha, marymere falls, spruce railroad, trails, winter


12/26/16 - The Elwha River and a Bobcat

Like many, we have been waiting for Olympic Hot Springs Road to reopen so we can return to the trails out of Whiskey Bend and revisit the hot springs themselves. To see how things were going, we parked at the Madison Falls parking lot and walked along the road, now closed to motorized traffic. The river was winter beautiful with snow on the hills and a cold gray light. The new temporary one lane bridge is in place and a fair bit of work has been done on the road.

We had some wonderful views of the river itself, but then, on our way back, we saw something else, a bobcat in the open field not far from the parking lot. We had seen a bobcat here before, but only briefly as it bounded away in the distance. This bobcat was closer and calmer. We were barely 50 feet away, close enough for an excellent view. It was a real treat in the face of a snowy winter and with so many trails closed in the park.


The Elwha River

Another view of the river

The river and snowy mountains

Across the river

The new bridge

Yet another view of the Elwha

Across the bridge

Through the woods

The bobcat

A closer view

And an even closer view

Keywords: elwha, olympic hot springs, spring, trails, winter


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